Probability of glaucoma blindness halved in 30 years

New York, Jan 22 (IANS): Better diagnosis and new therapies have helped decrease the probability of blindness due to glaucoma by nearly half since 1980, says a study.

“These results are extremely encouraging for those suffering from glaucoma and the doctors who care for them. The improvements in the diagnosis and treatment have played a key role in improving outcomes,” said Arthur J. Sit, associate professor of ophthalmology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

The researchers hope to gain insight into best practices for the distribution of health and medical resources, as well as management approaches to save people from the serious eye disease.

The researchers reviewed 857 cases of open-angle glaucoma (OAG) - the most common form of glaucoma.

They found that the 20-year probability and the population incidence of blindness due to OAG in at least one eye had decreased from 25.8 percent for subjects diagnosed between 1965 and 1980 to 13.5 percent for those diagnosed between 1981 and 2000.

The population incidence of blindness within 10 years of diagnosis also decreased from 8.7 per 100,000 to 5.5 per 100,000 for those groups, respectively, said the study published in the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Yet, 15 percent of the patients diagnosed in the more recent timeframe still progressed to blindness, it added.

“The rate at which people continue to go blind due to OAG is still unacceptably high. This is likely due to late diagnosis and our incomplete understanding of glaucoma, so it is critical that research into this devastating disease continues,” cautioned Sit.

A leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, glaucoma affects nearly 60.5 million people globally.

It is estimated that there are approximately 11.2 million people aged 40 years and older with glaucoma in India.


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